Vancouver Restaurants – Vegetarian 3

This is another entry in my series on vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Vancouver, BC, at the time when the city is about to host the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. The restaurants may or may not be able to handle the huge influx of people from cultures who require vegetarian meals, but certainly, they are the most experienced and in a place which usually supports their existence only marginally, then this is the time to vote with some dollars and to help them along. Links to the other vegetarian articles are at the end.

If you have food allergies, eating vegetarian (and moreso) eating vegan, will help, but you must ask what’s in the dishes. There should be ways for them to accommodate you.

Chutney Villa
In this stylishly, traditionally-appointed restaurant you can be introduced to South Indian cuisine, which is milder and more exotic than its northern cousin, but it can still bring forth substantial flavors! It is, by its nature, vegetarian-friendly, and Chutney Villa does South Indian right.

During your visit, don’t be surprised if you gets hugs from the warm and gregarious chef-owner Chindi Varardarajulu — whether it’s your first visit or, like many of her customers, your hundredth. The restaurant offers take-away, accepts reservations, takes credit cards and is handicap accessible.

All of the food is served on traditional metal Taali (trays) and several sides accompany the courses. Incense can be burning, so be aware of that. The low Indian music will set the stage for your meal.

Be aware that “spicy” actually means spicy. Certainly, consider “regular” if you do not like spicy food, and you’d better be prepared if you dare to order it “extra spicy”. They don’t mind if you share. So order some spicy and other non-spicy dishes. The Naan bread (available as side order), plain dosas and the yoghurt and the usually at-least-one mild chutney are all used to tone-down and otherwise change flavors in the mains.

The Manga Thenga Sundal appetizer which is: coconut, green mango, and chickpeas is delightfully refreshing, and the cauliflower appetizer is also worth a mention.

As for main entrees, the dosas (airy crepes made from white lentil doughs) come in both vegan and vegetarian options, and they are served with delicious home-made chutney. Traditionally, dosas are made about 2 feet wide and are done on a huge griddle, by a skilled cook who can make them paper-thin yet strong. They are usually served rolled, with filling inside.

When I think South Indian food, personally my stomach immediately demands dosas. These do not disappoint! Their thin, perfectly crispy crepes are paired with many chutneys, curries and sambals, each tasting dramatically different on subsequent visits, which is stimulating!

Their quartet of chutneys might include freshly made apple, coconut, onion and pineapple (even the not-so-“authentic” pear-banana chutney is outstanding). The coconut chutney and the onion chutney are favorites. Use the chutneys on anything and everything. Try them first so you know what you want to marry them with as the meal progresses.

The dosas, when used on the side, are crispy, pancake-like, and ideal for mopping up Lamb Poriyal or any of the authentic curries, made with deftly handled whole, fragrant lightly-roasted spices. Entrees to try: Chicken 66 and the lamb and prawn and fish curries — none of which are vegetarian, of course.

Most servers will help you know what the vegetarian offerings are or which can be made so, and there are ample vegetarian options. Masala Uttapum, Ragi Roti and the Tiffins are possibilities. There is a vegan brunch special on a Sunday: you may be amazed to be served small portions of at least 10 different dishes and have dosas, pooris, and chutneys filled as needed.

Meat-eaters and vegans alike have raved about this place. This is a testament to the quality of the cuisine: in South Indian cooking, there is traditionally little meat.

Mondays and Wednesdays boast a vegan feast which cleverly showcases rice, three ways. First, subtly sweet coconut-rice pairs well with a delicately spiced lentil curry, then basmati rice and light rice crepes give two different tantalizing results when paired with a creamy coconut-milk-based vegetable curry.

Brunch on Sundays (Sunch) is especially well regarded and it could consist of: the dosas, rice dishes, and curries, lifted by an unexpected selection of chutneys (e.g. sweet banana and tangy carrot-ginger).

R&B beer is on tap, along with a few Indian options and wine selections or you can sip fresh lime juice.

Friendly, efficient service rounds out the experience, and most people agree it’s a good or above average experience. The service is quietly done. They zero in on what chutneys you favor and make sure you are fully stocked at all times.

Entrees tend to be in the $10 – $15 range, Taali platters go for about $20 and some people find the portions are small, but always tasty, others say they had more than needed.

(Chutney Villa participates in the Ocean Wise program, using only the best environmentally-sound seafood.)

147 E. Broadway, Vancouver
Chutney Villa
Bus: WB E Broadway FS Main St P1

Vegetarian Restaurants, Vancouver BC Part 1
Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants, Vancouver BC Part 2

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